Too soon, experts say as India’s states ease mask mandate

Promoting the voluntary wearing of masks in public places can help reduce the inhalation of dust and other respiratory transmissible agents, including tuberculosis bacillus, influenza virus and other respiratory viruses, said the virologist T Jacob John.

New Delhi: Even though some states have moved to stop penalizing people for not wearing a mask as COVID-19 cases continue to drop, health experts say it’s too soon to remove the restriction altogether. .

They advised people to mask up voluntarily in order to also stay protected from infections such as influenza and swine flu, except for the coronavirus.

The governments of Maharashtra and Delhi recently moved to relax the restriction on the compulsory wearing of face masks in public, a norm that has been in place for two years and breaching it resulted in a fine of Rs 2,000.

Reacting to the development, renowned virologist T Jacob John said that since the pandemic is “over” in India, mask use is no longer necessary to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The mandate of the mask has had its day and there is no longer any justification for maintaining it as a “mandate”.

But it is a good idea to promote the voluntary wearing of masks in public places to reduce the inhalation of dust and other respiratory transmissible agents, including tuberculosis bacillus, influenza virus, other viruses respiratory like syncytial virus, adenovirus, cold viruses, etc., he said. .

“It’s a habit that will reduce disease. Currently we see kidney transplant patients wearing masks; everyone will benefit – on buses, trains, planes, etc.,” John, the former director of the Advanced Research Center of Indian Council for Medical Research in Virology, says PTI.

“My personal opinion is that there should be active promotion of mask wearing in all hospital premises, in outpatient clinics and in all queues and waiting areas. There I am not even opposed to a mandate. For staff and patients, relatives, visitors, etc., “added Jean.

Dr. Ravi Shekhar Jha, Additional Director and Head of Respirology Department, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, said mask should continue to be mandatory and it is premature to abandon the habit altogether.

“The disastrous second wave, which claimed the lives of many young people around the world, was something the modern world had never seen before. People had become a bit complacent after the first wave and that probably led to an uncontrolled increase in fatal cases.Although it is true that the majority of susceptible Indians are vaccinated, what we must bear in mind is that the vaccine does not protect us against infection. if the infection is not fatal, it keeps you weak for many months,” he said.

“We all know about the long COVID. Therefore, it’s best not to get infected. So far, science has proven that masks are the only major contributors to preventing infection,” Jha said. PTI.

Another important consideration here is that although COVID-19 has likely weakened, the country has seen a reduction in the number of swine flu cases thanks to masks and sanitation practices.

“Swine flu is more deadly than COVID and the combination called flurona can also be prevented by this. Therefore, in my opinion, masks should not go out of fashion…too soon,” he noted.

Dr. Akshay Budhraja, Senior Pulmonologist, Aakash Healthcare Super Specialty Hospital, said it was time to stop swinging between restriction and normalcy. We must learn to live with the coronavirus as we live with other viruses such as influenza and adenovirus among others.

“Masks should not be mandatory for the general population, but recommended for those who are ill or have any type of immunosuppressive illness, who visit crowded closed places with poor ventilation or when visiting a healthcare facility such as hospitals or clinics,” he said.

“At the same time, we must remain cautious and follow the latest recommendations which may change from time to time in the coming months, according to statistics. Now that everyone knows enough when to wear a mask, we must take responsibility ourselves. even in times to come, he said.

Dr Arunesh Kumar, HOD and Senior Consultant, Pulmonology, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram, said there had been an increase in COVID-19 cases in the west as well as in China.

“Masking is the second most effective intervention after vaccination when it comes to preventing new COVID infection. We are still not there with our double number of vaccine recipients where herd immunity will be reached.

New infections invite the virus to mutate. With a population as large as ours, it can be costly because people will certainly find a reason not to put on a mask because a major deterrent has been removed,” he said.

Advocating for unlocking but not unmasking, Kumar said the mask has also proven useful in preventing other infections like tuberculosis as well as allergic problems due to dust and pollen, “which is a big problem. in the National Capital Region of Delhi”.

“I urge people to consider masking on a voluntary basis when they are about to help the country effectively fight Covid infection,” he added.

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